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Best for: People wanting digestive support alongside their vitamin D supplement.
The Garden of Life Vitamin Code RAW D3 supplement is more than just a good source of vitamin D—it also contains gut-supporting ingredients like probiotics and digestive enzymes, plus a blend of 23 raw fruit and vegetable powders to add nutrients and antioxidants.
The vitamin D in this supplement is delivered in a lipid (fat) base of cracked-wall chlorella, which has undergone a special process to open the algae plant’s tough cell walls to increase absorption.
There are 2,000 IUs of vitamin D3 in this supplement, which is an adequate amount of vitamin D to raise your blood levels—for more information about dosages, continue to How Much Vitamin D Do You Need?
Best Gummy Vitamin D: Nordic Naturals Vitamin D3 5000 Gummies
Tasty passion fruit flavor for people who don’t want to take pills
Good dose of vitamin D3 per gummy
2g of added sugar per gummy
Not suitable for children (too high of a vitamin D dose)
Best for: People on a budget looking for a vitamin D3-K2 combination.
At just $0.12 per serving, the Hi-Health Vitamin D3+K2 provides an affordable option for a moderately high dose of vitamin D3 (5,000 IU) with vitamin K2.
This duo of vitamins is beneficial because vitamin D helps with calcium absorption, but vitamin K2 (especially in the highly bioavailable form of MK-7) directs the calcium into the bones and teeth, where it’s needed to promote bone mineral density.
Without vitamin K2, calcium can end up in the bloodstream and arteries, where it can calcify and cause cardiovascular health problems.
With four drops containing 400 IUs, this supplement contains the lowest vitamin D dose on this list—however, you can easily vary the dosage by taking more drops.
And with 527 (four-drop) servings per bottle, this liquid vitamin D will cost you less than two pennies per day, making it the most affordable option.
Another benefit of being able to take as low as 100 IUs (one drop) is that you can administer this vitamin D to children who aren’t able to take pills.
However, one thing to note is that this vitamin D3 is not vegan or vegetarian, as it is sourced from lanolin—sheep’s wool.
How Much Vitamin D Do You Need?
According to the National Institutes of Health, the recommended dietary allowance (RDA) for vitamin D is 600 IU for adults up to age 70 and 800 IU for adults over age 70, with a serum vitamin D level of 20 ng/mL being considered adequate.
However, many researchers agree that these recommendations are set too low.
The Endocrine Society recommends that adequate serum vitamin D levels should be above 30 ng/mL, which would require 1,500-2,000 IU per day for adults.
Some functional medicine doctors recommend even higher serum vitamin D levels, ranging between 50 to 80 ng/mL.
Supplemental vitamin D3 of 1,000-5,000 IU per day appears to be beneficial, with some research stating that 10,000 IU per day for adults is safe for a short period of time in cases of deficiency.
However, the study did find that hypercalciuria and hypercalcemia—excess calcium in the urine and blood, respectively—occurred more frequently with higher doses, with hypercalciuria occurring more often.
Hypercalciuria is a common cause of calcium kidney stone formation, and hypercalcemia can lead to kidney stones, kidney failure, irregular heartbeats, and osteoporosis.
Therefore, it’s important to know what your serum vitamin D levels are before you begin supplementing with higher doses—get your vitamin D levels checked by a healthcare practitioner first before taking regular doses over 5,000 IU per day.
Vitamin D Supplement FAQs
What Is the Best Form Of Vitamin D to Take?
The best form of vitamin D to take is vitamin D3 (cholecalciferol) because D3 is the superior form for raising vitamin D levels, as it’s more bioavailable and stable in the body than vitamin D2.
When it comes to supplement administration, that depends on your preference—you can take vitamin D in capsule, softgel, gummy, or liquid form.
What Type of Vitamin D Supplement Is Best Absorbed?
Vitamin D3 supplements are best absorbed.
When it comes to supplement administration, a liquid form would be absorbed into the bloodstream faster than pills.
What’s the Difference Between Vitamin D and Vitamin D3?
Vitamin D3 (cholecalciferol) is traditionally animal-derived—although new technologies have allowed for vegan versions of D3—while vitamin D3, or ergocalciferol, is plant-based from irradiated yeast or mushrooms.
Vitamin D3 is the type that our skin makes in response to sunlight, but both forms are found in foods—albeit not that many foods naturally contain either form.
For example, vitamin D3 is found in some egg yolks, oily fish, and fish liver oils, while D2 is found in some mushrooms.
Vitamin D3 is the better form to supplement with, as it’s more bioavailable and stable in the body, making it more effective at raising serum vitamin D levels—one study estimated that D3 was 87% more potent than D2 in raising and maintaining vitamin D levels.
However, vitamin D2 is cheaper and easier to synthesize, which is why many supplement or food brands use this form.
When looking for vitamin D supplements, ensure it’s in the D3 form to make sure your body can use the vitamin effectively.
When Should I Take Vitamin D?
Vitamin D is fat-soluble, so taking it with a fat source is necessary for absorption.
Vitamin D can be taken at any time of day, as long as it is near a fat-containing meal or snack.
Vitamin D is important for bone, cognitive, mood, metabolic, immune, heart, and gut health.
Supplements are helpful for raising vitamin D levels because most people don’t get enough from food or sunshine.
Vitamin D3 is the most bioavailable form of the vitamin, and doses range from 1,000 to 5,000 IUs used for maintaining adequate vitamin D levels, while 10,000 IUs are used for people with deficiencies.
Billington EO, Burt LA, Rose MS, et al. Safety of High-Dose Vitamin D Supplementation: Secondary Analysis of a Randomized Controlled Trial. J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2020;105(4):dgz212. doi:10.1210/clinem/dgz212
Heaney RP, Recker RR, Grote J, Horst RL, Armas LA. Vitamin D(3) is more potent than vitamin D(2) in humans. J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2011;96(3):E447-E452. doi:10.1210/jc.2010-2230
Liu X, Baylin A, Levy PD. Vitamin D deficiency and insufficiency among US adults: prevalence, predictors and clinical implications. Br J Nutr. 2018;119(8):928-936. doi:10.1017/S0007114518000491
Sassi F, Tamone C, D’Amelio P. Vitamin D: Nutrient, Hormone, and Immunomodulator. Nutrients. 2018;10(11):1656. Published 2018 Nov 3. doi:10.3390/nu10111656
Food is for physical wellness, and pharmaceutical products are for mental health conditions—that’s where most of us land when it comes to nutrition psychiatry.
Nutrition is understandably not priority one in the chaotic moments immediately following a traumatic brain injury (TBI), but as soon as the patient is stable, nutrition therapy shares center stage with other key tenets of TBI rehabilitation.
Normally, we’re content to bounce around new and/or controversial theories on nutritional concepts all day, but every so often, we have the luxury of seeing in black and white.
This may seem like a fun-killing exercise at first, but we’re not interested in coddling or pandering to our readers, so let’s get the harsh reality out of the way: most of us haven’t earned the right to binge on vacation.